Ciao, Chow Baby. And good riddance.
I paid my first and last today visit to this relatively new eatery on Ponce de Leon. The food might be good, but even sheer gastronomic perfection couldn't make up for the the poor service and uncaring attitude of the owner and staff.
My wife and preschool-aged son arrived at the restaurant at approximately 5:30PM on a Friday afternoon. Fewer than half the tables were occupied and there were only a handful of people in line waiting to order. My wife and son took a seat at an unoccupied table to wait, and were told quickly and rather rudely by a server that it was not permitted to sit at a table until one has ordered. My wife informed the server that she was waiting for me, less than five minutes away, and that few tables in the restaurant were occupied. Nonetheless, the server insisted that my wife and young child stand up in a ""waiting area"" a few feet away.
A few minutes later, I pulled into the two-thirds empty parking lot and noted a sign reading ""complimentary valet parking."" I do not valet park, and let the attendant know that I was happy to tip him, but that I preferred to park in one of the many available open spaces myself. The valet informed me that the valet parking was compulsory. I indicated again I would be happy to tip him but that I would not be allowing anyone else to park my car. He rudely stated that I was welcome to go somewhere else for dinner, or park on the poorly-lit, alley-like street that runs behind the restaurant. I told him I would do the latter.
Upon entering the restaurant and learning about the poor treatment my wife and son had received, I immediately asked the hostess to speak with the manager. She went to fetch Chip, identified as the owner and manager, and a few minutes later he met us at the front of the restaurant. My wife explained her experience with the server. Chip immediately responded with an explanation about how, when it gets busy, there can be more people in line than there are tables available for and that practice is necessary to cut down on waiting time. I politely pointed out that it was 5:45PM and that fewer than half the tables were occupied, that there were very few people in line waiting to order, and that my wife had verified with my by phone that I was only a few minutes away. Chip stated he was sorry that happened, and immediately attempted to justify it having happend by repeating his explanation.
I then explained the situation with the valet. Chip first tried to say that the valets were operating independently, but quickly acknowledged that they were acting in accordance with policy at this and the other of the restaurant's locations. He then explained the challenges of operating a restaurant with so little parking. I again politely pointed out again that it was 5:45PM and the parking lot was less than half full. Chip once again explained the challenges of operating a restaurant with so little parking and made no apology for the valet's rude behavior.
At this point I asked him if he felt anything might have been done differently and whether he had any interest in addressing our concerns. He shrugged and was silent, at which point I thanked him for his time, indicated we would take our business elsewhere, and that I would share this experience with my friends and colleagues.
I have restaurant management experience, and do a fair amount of consulting work in the industry. Chip's arguments might have had merit a few hours later when the dinner seating started to pick up but were laughable given the early hour. Whether or not the arguments had merit at any time, Chip's disinterest and the rudeness of his staff was inexcusable.
I can't rate the food as I didn't stay to sample it, but give Chow Baby less than one star for its atrociously poor service.